grown ups are like that....

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Thursday, January 1, 2009


Enchiladas are one of my favorite dishes from my childhood. They are a bit time consuming, but worth it.

2 Tbs. butter or shortening (butter really is the most flavorful, I think)
2 Tbs. flour
prepared veggie or chicken broth
chili powder (New Mexico Style is best)

Combine butter and flour in a large sauce pan to make a roux. Slowly add broth (about 3 cups, maybe--it isn't an exact science so you'll have to just feel when it is the right consistency) and simmer. Add chili powder until you have a nice, thick sauce and the flavor suits your taste. Add a dash of cumin or cinnamon if you like. Keep sauce warm on the stove top while you prepare the tortillas.

about 20 (more or less) corn tortillas
shredded cheddar cheese though I suppose Monterrey jack would be nice, too
diced onions
whole black olives

Put a ladleful of sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 13 casserole dish and set aside. Prepare the tortillas by either frying in hot oil or microwaving a small stack with a wet paper towel covering them until soft and pliable. When you have a small stack of warm tortillas ready dip one in the warm sauce and lay it on a plate. Fill with cheese, onions, and one olive (this is where you can get creative--try adding spinach, sauteed sweet potato, shredded chicken, etc.) Roll the enchiladas and lay them in the casserole pan. When the pan is full, ladle remaining sauce over the enchiladas and sprinkle with cheese.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly.

I have so many memories of eating enchiladas with my family over the years, but my favorite memory is from my early twenties. It was the morning after my engagement party and my mother, my girlfriends, and I sat in lawn chairs in the back yard. We each had heaping plates of leftover enchiladas and rice from the previous night's party. We felt happy and girlish and excited as we talked about my upcoming nuptials. To this day the taste of enchiladas makes me think of being young with the future full of possibilities and the sun warm on my face.

the feel of color

As I reach my hand into the bottom drawer of my desk I pull this out:

rice candy
sun room

honey bear
autumn spirit
october leaves

fall song

and this:

blue overtones
a few brave men
movie star
independence day

Paint chips are some of my favorite little objects in the world. I love the matte, powdery feel of the sample. Like just sanded pine. Soft and smooth, their book mark shape fits comfortably in the palm. The one (and I have many) labeled with names such as submarine, swamp fog, and fizzle has maroon crayon marks all over it. I can close my eyes and feel the transition from chalky pigment to waxy, bumpy lines. I can sit for hours running my fingers over these bits of color that please not only my eyes, but my fingers, too.

In this same drawer I have a small wallpaper sample book from 1978. Like the paint chips, the pages are not just food for the eyes. These sheets are rich with texture. The page called Williamsburg Fruit is durable and thick. They even suggest taking a hard brush to the orange and green fruits "It's Scrubbable!"

Some are so heavy and the designs raised so much that they actually feel like linoleum rather than wall paper. Maria is a favorite of mine with big pink and yellow posies that look like they are made of tissue paper on a creamy background. The texture is not of embossed flowers, though, but of raised little goose pimples all over the page. The kind you can''t help but run your fingers over again and again.

Barkley is the absolute best, though. It is a traditional decorative floral pattern that is almost Victorian in its ornate quality. With a milky background the pattern itself is a greenish gold. Every time I touch it, though, I am a little sad. It looks so much like a wallpaper that hung in our hallway when we were children. But the wallpaper of my childhood was velvety to the touch. Remember those funky types of papers? I loved, loved, loved this paper and to me it just felt rich in the way pure cream is rich. Or decadent the way strawberries are in January. Completely too much and out of place, but also very, very right. And fun. I look at Barkley and I want to feel that richness again. I want to run down the hall with my hand trailing the walls behind me.